From gags to riches
Not much to add to today's treeware column about US President Barack Obama's repeal of the ''global gag rule'' except for some linky goodness and a repost (below) of a video from a blog entry last year:
week in the Oval Office, U.S. President Barack Obama announced some
long-awaited measures that will make for a better country, if not
Barely a week in the Oval Office, U.S. President Barack Obama announced some long-awaited measures that will make for a better country, if not planet.
The shutdown of the Guantanamo prison camp, new energy and environmental policies, initial passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act ... the list goes on.
But nothing he did was as world-changing as the repeal of the so-called "global gag rule,'' which made non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, certify that they "will not perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning" if they wanted funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
This Obama did last Friday, even as pro-forced-pregnancy types were in Washington protesting the 36th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that gave women the right to control their bodies and destinies.
First enacted under Ronald Regan, who dropped it on the world in 1984 at a United Nations conference in Mexico City, and then briefly rescinded by Bill Clinton, the gag rule was re-enacted by George W. Bush on his very first day in office in 2001.
Since then, the UN, NGOs and international health experts estimate that this religion-fuelled act of censorship has, each and every year, contributed to the deaths of 70,000 women who have sought out back-alley abortions. What's more, it has resulted in the births of maybe millions of babies into disease, starvation and war.
They never had much of a chance at life anyway.
Many were the product of rape by marauding militants whose attacks on women left them incapable of caring for themselves, let alone their children.
Others were born to child brides, married or sold off to older men, and impregnated before their bodies were fully developed. As a result of this physical brutalization, these girls end up with horrible genital fistulas, which leave them completely – and I mean completely – incontinent. And so their husbands abandon them to their misery, and move on to other young wives.
According to World Vision, as many as one in four infants doesn't make it anyway. And, as other organizations, including the UN, report, every minute of every day, a woman dies in childbirth.
What made the global gag rule especially cruel, not to mention unethical, was that it used American tax dollars – including those paid by proponents of reproductive rights – to dictate how foreign NGOs spent their own money.
If they wanted USAID funding, they could not even counsel a woman to get an abortion to save her own life. They could not refer a woman to a place where she might get such counselling – even if abortion was legal in her country.
Needless to say, this put health practitioners in ethical quandaries, restricting their medical options and rendering them unable to give patients the best treatment.
But who in the God-fearing, let's-bomb-children-in-Iraq Republican sphere cared about the lives of two-legged baby incubators?
Imagine the difference Obama's move will make to Mother Earth.
Because women around the world will now have access to better family planning, they will have fewer and healthier babies. This could lead, eventually, to less conflict over resources and land.
The planet will be less strained by overpopulation.
As for the women themselves, they may now have a chance for independence and education.
Half the world's brains and talent will not be sacrificed on the altar of anti-choice dogma. If women are not incapacitated by painful pregnancies, deadly deliveries and the unimaginable suffering in trying to protect and feed the children that do make it, they might move on to build businesses, schools, hospitals, orphanages – and a better world.
So when Obama promised hope and change, he made good in far more ways than most of us can ever imagine.
Oh wait, what am I talking about? Of course there's much to add, like reaction from the pro-forced pregnancy promoters who think life is all about having girls die.
"We were prepared for this and we will work very hard in Congress to see what we can do to get this overturned," Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, told AFP.
"I think it's a horrible tactic to take toward third world countries if the best we can do for them is provide organizations with the money needed to perform abortions on their children," she said.
Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, said lifting the gag rule was tantamount to "exporting a culture of death," and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor said he was "saddened by this decision and the lives that will be lost because of it."
Yeah. Gagging. The word is appropriate.